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The London Underground: an oldie but a goodie

<span class="" id="parent-fieldname-description"> Affectionately known as the Tube, the world’s first underground railway network celebrated its 150th birthday on January 9. </span> <p>By Rebecca Fist</p><p>The Underground opened on January 9, 1863, with a steam locomotive departing on its inaugural passenger journey the following day from Paddington to Farringdon. Two stations soon became six within a year, with 270 stations now serving the city’s underground artery.</p><p>There was no actual central plan for building the Underground in the 1800s. It was construted by a number of private stakeholders and due to be being built by competing private interest groups some locations had more than one station and today, there are about 40 ghost stations remaining on the network.</p><p>Draughtsman Harry Beck went on to the design the Underground’s famous map which was introduced in 1933. </p><p>Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said the arrival of the Underground was truly revolutionary and today it is still admired around the world.</p><p>“It annihilates distance, liquidates traffic and is the throbbing cardiovascular system of the greatest city on earth,” Johnson said.</p><p>The Underground has played a key role in Britain’s history with the tunnels providing frequent cover for thousands of civilians during the Blitz of World War II. It is also resiliant having withstood one of the worst terrorist atrocities inflicted on Britain in 2005 that saw 52 people killed.</p><p>The Tube is the third-busiest underground rail network in the world behind Moscow and Paris, transporting more than a billion passengers every year. Without it, getting from A to B in London would be nearly impossible.</p><p>The capacity of the Underground was put to the test last year when London was host to the 2012 Olympic and Paralympics games. The Tube transported record numbers of people on its biggest day trains carried 4.4 million passengers through the city. Impressively the trains were on time and the network ran smoothly throughout the games’ duration.</p><p>Over the next 20 years London’s population is expected to grow by well over a million people and a massive Tube upgrade program is currently underway to provide greater capacity and faster, more reliable services including station transformations, the replacement of trains, signals and track and new air-conditioned trains to serve 40% of the network.</p><p>The program is said to be one of the largest and most complex engineering projects in the world.</p><p>Throughout this month, Londoners are celebrating the longevity of their much-beloved transport icon with a number of activities planned. Signifantly, the Royal Mail is releasing a special edition of ten stamps and the Royal Mint is producing two new two-pound coins to celebrate the Underground’s enduring role.<br /><br /><br />&nbsp</p>